GreatCall: Reviews and Company Overview

GreatCall is a well regarded leader in design of senior-friendly products, and makes the popular Jitterbug and Lively phones, as well as the Lively Mobile Plus mobile medical alert pendant and Lively Wearable.

The "5 star response services" that work on each of the emergency devices above can optionally include some very interesting services that go far beyond the traditional emergency responder service. These extra services include 24/7 access to a doctor or nurse, and use of a caregiver connection application called GreatCall Link.

GreatCall was acquired by Best Buy in 2018, but still operates under the GreatCall brand.

 

 

Services Beyond "Calling for Help"

A key differentiator of the GreatCall family of products is that they come with a variety of (optional) services that go far beyond the basic "calling for help" service which you find in most medical alerts.

The basic services, available on both the phones and the medical alerts, include:

  • Urgent Response ("Calling for Help");
  • Urgent Care;
  • GreatCall Link; and 
  • Fall Detection.

The phones have some additional services, including a Personal Operator; "GreatCall Rides"; and Brain Games.

 

Urgent Response

The Urgent Response service is the baseline service you have to have if you want a professionally monitored medical alert.

The GreatCall response has been consistently "fastest" of the different products we have been evaluating since 2015. (See Mobile Alert Systems: Comparison Testing for more details).

 

Urgent Care

This is an interesting "optional extra" service. It includes 24/7 access to a doctor or nurse, and ability to "get common prescriptions over the phone".

We have not evaluated this service.

 

GreatCall Link

This is a companion "Caregiver App" that works with the medical alert or phone.

This App worked adequately when we tried it out. It lets a caregiver do things like see when a battery needs recharging; or locate the person carrying the medical alert.

 

Fall Detection

This is increasingly table-stakes for a modern medical alert.

 

 

Responder Centers

GreatCall owns and runs its own responder center (they call them a Caring Center). This is far from the norm in the medical alert industry, and most medical alert providers subcontract the actual monitoring service to a handful of responder centers owned by other companies (such as Avantguard).

In an interview, GreatCall emphasized several aspects they believe are important aspects of a good emergency response center.

  1. Well trained responders. GreatCall tells us that all their responders have NAED certification (National Academies of Emergency Dispatch). And the customer service representatives that help with purchasing and technical issues undergo a 6 week training course.
     
  2. Speed of response. And in our tests of various GreatCall products, response time was consistently the fastest of the tested products.
     
  3. Speed to pop up the location on the screen of the responder. 
     
  4. Redundancy of the responder center (GreatCall has two fully redundant Caring Centers — one in California and one in Nevada).
     
  5. Carrier coverage (ie the products will only work in places where the carrier has coverage so the broader that coverage is the better). GreatCall products use Verizon as the cell carrier.
     
  6. Data privacy.
     

 

The Individual GreatCall Products

See detailed, hands-on reviews of the individual GreatCall products below.

 

Individual Product Reviews: Our Analysis

 

Lively Mobile Plus Medical Alert pendant

GreatCall, Lively Mobile Plus

The Lively Mobile Plus Medical Alert is one of our top picks in the mobile alert category. It includes fall detection and GPS location capability, and has a number of pluses in addition (see below).


 

 

Jitterbug Flip2

Lively, Jitterbug Flip2

This is an interestingly different approach to a medical alert. This product is a "senior friendly" cell phone, but it has a button which lets you call the medical alert monitoring service (called 5 star) which is provided by the manufacturer (Lively — previously called GreatCall).


 

 

Lively Wearable 2

GreatCall, Lively Wearable

This is a very interesting addition to the medical alert landscape, solving several problems that are common among other product offerings. However, the design tradeoffs the company has made in developing the product mean that it also has some limitations. Our overall take on the Lively Wearable is that it is an excellent solution for a specific type of person. But probably not suitable for the majority of older adults.


 

Selection Tool

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Review Star Rating: 
5.0 Stars